End of Life Decisions – Lessons Learned

End of Life Decisions

Sadly, I can’t say I remember my first code or even the first death I witnessed. Unfortunately, there have been so many over the years. Not to minimize any life that has crossed my path, but after 16 years, it does all start to blend together. There are a few who stand out – but, I will save their stories for another day.  However, each experience – each life – has been a small part of my molding – shaping who I am, teaching me a lesson. And those lessons I try to pass on.

We rarely talked about death in my nursing program – the model for our nursing school was based on restoring people to their highest level of functioning – death doesn’t always fit into that equation. So, when I came out of school, I was clueless. In my personal life, I had not had anyone close to me pass away, so I really didn’t even have that frame of reference to draw from. However, working in critical care areas – I had to learn quickly!

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What if we put CARE back in healthCARE?

care in healthcare

As a nurse, I am often asked what I think is wrong with healthcare? How can it be fixed? Can it be fixed? I always quickly retort with, “The problem with healthcare is that no one seems to care anymore. Remember, it is called health CARE?”. Although it usually gets a chuckle, I really do mean it. We are at a critical time of change in healthcare here in America – new electronic medical records being mandated, Core Measures, HCAHPS, “never events”, Obama-care being implemented, medical malpractice claims on the rise. It just all seems out of control…  and kind of silly if you really sit down and evaluate some of these new measures. For example, one of the HCAHPS questions is regarding medication teaching. As nurses and healthcare providers, don’t we want our patients to know about their medications? If we really cared about our patient, we would. Or how about the noise level – another favorite survey question. If we really cared about our patients getting rest so they could heal, we would be quieter. We would want it to be quiet so we could get some rest if we were a patient.

I know all the problems in healthcare can not all be solved by such a simplistic answer. But what if? Imagine, if we all went into work tomorrow and actually CARED about our patients…. took the effort we would expect if we or our family members were a patient. What if we put CARE back into healthCARE?? What would it look like if we took ownership of our patients – really advocated for them when the system really did not seem to be in their favor? I believe each of us has the power to make an impact -we see it every day in the smiles of patients and families we touch.

Call to action!

I challenge you to start to care! There are a lot of things we can’t change, but we can change ourselves! Lets get our there and put the care back into healtCARE! I can’t wait to see what it will look like! Remember, change starts with you, so be the change!!